Eight people filed for the City Council election in Lake Forest –
- Dave Bass
- Tom Cagley
- Jim Gardner
- Andrew Hamilton
- Mike Healey
- Kathy McCullough
- Elizabeth Miller
- Scott Voigts
Originally 12 people “pulled papers” but in the end, 4 dropped out. Twelve was the highest number of people to actually show an interest, and the current figure of 8 is tied for the highest number of people to ever run in Lake Forest. Normally Lake Forest has fewer than 6 people running. The last time 8 people ran, no incumbent was re-elected, showing that such a high number of people running was a good estimate of the public’s unhappiness with the current regime.
Prior to 2010, incumbents rarely lost. For 20+ years, people like Kathy McCullough, Richard Dixon, Marsha Rudolph and Peter Herzog were re-elected year after year. One term Rudolph suffered a defeat but quickly returned to office at the next election. Otherwise, voluntarily withdrawal (Tettemer) was the only way for an incumbent’s seat to become free.
The power of incumbency and the power of the dollar associated with incumbency kept the status quo. Developers and businesses contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of incumbents and with that bankroll and name recognition, they were re-elected. At the end of the day, most people living in Lake Forest are happy, so why change a good thing? What most people don’t realize is the major cause of the happiness are things like weather and location, neither of which are influenced by the City Council, while the major causes of their unhappiness, like traffic congestion and fewer amenities (e.g., senior center, dog park, civic center) are directly attributable to the actions of the Council.
Where promises were not sufficient, previous City Council members and City staff were not averse to lying to the people to keep them happy. For years, Kathy McCullough and others proudly proclaimed that Lake Forest “is one of the safest cities in the U.S.” – a claim that was blatantly false since Lake Forest has a higher crime rate than most of their neighbors in South Orange County. Even the City’s own secret research report, released only to the Council, demonstrated that the murder rate in South Orange County over the last 10 years showed that Lake Forest had the 4th highest rate among 12 cities. But even today, the average person believes the lie told so often by so many. After all, who would willingly tell you that our violent crime rate is relatively high and then expect you to vote them back into office?
Happy people don’t vote out incumbents who have huge bankrolls to advertise their good deeds, even if those good deeds consist of promises to provide services down the line. Achievements like the Alton Parkway Extension and the Sports Park were decades in the making, and even now the traffic lights in the City are not synchronized. Even the much touted “Opportunity Study” is far from completion, and in retrospect, the only real opportunity was for Council members to get tens of thousands of dollars from developers.
With the 2014 election forthcoming, there are some questions to be answered?
- Is the fact that so many people are running for office a sign that the incumbents will not fare well, as it did the last time 8 people ran?
- Can Kathy McCullough once more win election and become the longest serving Council member in the City’s history?
- Just as the Tea Party is weakening on a nationwide basis, is the short Tea Party reign of Scott Voigts at an end?
- Can Dave Bass be appointed on his promise not to run, change his mind, and get elected?
Only time will tell.
About Jim Gardner:
Dr. Jim Gardner enjoyed careers as a Clinical Psychologist and a Businessman. As a Psychologist he worked in private practice, state centers, and in Universities where he was a Professor and Department Head. He’s been a Management Consultant to Global 500 companies, Police and DEA and is the Past President of the Lake 1 HOA, Co-founder Friends of Lake Forest Animals, Member of the Lake Forest Parade Committee and a Supporter of Breast Cancer Solutions, Soroptimists International, and South County Outreach. He ran for the Lake Forest City Council in 2012, garnering 5,894 votes. He just missed getting elected to the Lake Forest City Council in 2008, by about 6% of the vote. Since 2012 he’s penned more than 1,500 articles online and in the press discussing Lake Forest, and he’s present at almost every City Council meeting where he normally contributes 3 or 4 public comments. Known for persistence, he is running again in 2014.